Published: April 2, 2019

Are you pawsitively stressed and in need of some serious canine affection? Fortunately, the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries and Therapy Dogs Boulder County (TDBC) are bringing back Bark Buddies this month. This means there will be a handful of furry friends to play with at each of the Libraries!

TDBC has been partnering with the University Libraries for six years, connecting students with canine companions for a handful of afternoons around finals time each semester. Jane Collier is a CU Event Coordinator for TDBC. She said therapy dogs are a great comfort to students during this trying point of the semester.

“It's been scientifically proven that petting a dog lowers your blood pressure. It increases Oxytocin, which is a hormone that is associated with empathy and relationship-building in your brain, said Collier. “People relax when they are around a dog and pet a dog. They start to breathe. They feel better.”

TBDC volunteers bring therapy dogs to hospitals, retirement communities, schools, and libraries within the Boulder County area. Collier said the recurring visits to the University Libraries are special to the organization.

“When we’re [at the Libraries] for finals, the students are studying, they're worried about grades and pressures, and they've told us time and time again how much the dogs have helped them to de-stress,” she said. “They come to pet the dogs, leave to go to class or go study, then come back. There are students who get to visit with the same dog year after year.”

Students gather around a therapy dog and a volunteer with TDBC.

Students gather around a therapy dog and a volunteer with TDBC.

Cynthia Keller, senior instructor and learning coordinator for the University Libraries, agreed that visits from TBDC are great for students.

“The month leading up to finals is a stressful time for many students,” said Keller. “Students across disciplines are using library spaces to study. We like that and we want to make sure we provide stress relief opportunities for students to take short breaks from their studies.”

Unlike a registered service dog, dogs are not allowed in Libraries. But Bark Buddies, a program for certified “therapy dogs” is the exception to this rule. It’s an added treat for dog lovers that the dogs visiting Norlin Library on April 9 range in breed and size. Collier said it's not the size or breed of the dog that matters.

“It’s more about their temperament or personality,” said Collier. “Any breed of dog can be a therapy dog, but you have to look at the dog and consider, ‘Do they like people? Are they social?’ Dogs that are very calm, mild-mannered, and well-behaved make great therapy dogs.”

Therapy dogs like this one love attention.

Therapy dogs like this one love attention.

It’s recommended that therapy dogs have some form of obedience training, which includes being able to follow basic commands such as “sit” and “stay,” and not jumping or pulling on tight leashes. Therapy dogs also have to be at least one-year-old.

Collier said that bringing the dogs to campus makes the volunteers feel warm and fuzzy.

“We walk away and feel like, ‘Wow, it feels like we did some good today!’” she said. “No matter where we go with our dogs, we are greeted with a smile and they hate to see us go. As a volunteer, you have to keep going with it. You can't say 'no.' It's so rewarding to everybody, and the dogs love it!”

Check out the Bark Buddies schedule for the month. All events are 1-3 p.m.

  • Tuesday, April 9 - Norlin Library (East entrance)
  • Thursday, April 11- Gemmill Library
  • Monday, April 15- Business Library
  • Wednesday, April 17- Music Library(Imig, Tile Lounge)
  • Tuesday, April 23 – Earth Sciences and Map Library
  • Thursday, April 25 – Norlin Library (East entrance)

For more information, visit therapydogsbouldercounty.com